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Fox News Anti-Vaxx Commentator Bre Payton Dies at 26, Likely From Swine Flu

There’s a saying that comes from the Bible, “you reap what you sow.” The idea behind that axiom is pretty simple and has been tweaked and changed many times over the years to things lik e “you get what you give” or even the famous Beatle version, “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” So if you’re an anti-vaxxer who also happens to be against universal healthcare, no one should be surprised if you die from a preventable disease that you could have been inoculated from — and it would be paid for out of your taxes.

To be completely fair to Bre Payton, I don’t know if she got her flu shot this year. But we do know that her doctors say the 26-year-old conservative commentator and Fox News contributor died from H1N1, or, “the swine flu.” We do know it all happened very quickly.

The Federalist and a friend, Morgan Murtaugh, confirmed Payton’s death Friday in San Diego.

Murtaugh said Payton had been fighting swine flu and possibly meningitis. Murtaugh said she found Payton unconscious on Thursday morning. (NBC News)

We also know that at least at one point in her past, Payton had said “vaccines are from the devil.” No, really, she tweeted it, and here’s the tweet.

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To be completely fair to the late Ms. Payton, I found that tweet pretty easily, but it’s also from 2011. That was seven years ago, and she would have only been 19 years old at the time. It’s very possible that her views on vaccination changed since then, but I couldn’t find any pro or anti-vaxx writings she did since, so unfortunately the only primary source of information we have paints her very clearly as anti-vaxxer. Considering that among some on the right there’s a push to shun vaccination because somehow it’s conflated with liberalism, it’s not a very far leap of logic to make that Payton could have been someone who avoided vaccinating herself along those ideological lines.

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Even if Payton had decided by the time of her death that vaccines were a good thing, and even if she did in fact get her flu shot this year, that doesn’t change the fact that there is an unavoidable, if not sad, irony to the way in which she died. Bre Payton died suddenly of a disease that is very preventable, especially when one lives in a country with universal health care. Hell, we have Obamacare here in the United States, and it’s definitely not universal healthcare, but even it offers cost-free vaccinations as one of it’s primary selling points.

The irony in Payton’s death comes from the fact that literally just this month she was heavily critical of the notion that affordable healthcare is a human right. She was so biting and sarcastic about something that most definitely could have saved her life. Again, this is not to imply that Payton herself couldn’t afford healthcare, but there are millions of people in this country who don’t have access to affordable healthcare and could certainly die from the same causes Bre did, so it is absolutely worth noting her strident anti-universal healthcare stance.

One of the best arguments for universal healthcare is that it allows for the kinds of preventative medicine that could have caught Payton’s symptoms sooner, and diagnosed the flu in time to keep her alive. It’s truly tragic that someone has passed away before the age of 30, but at least maybe a lesson can be learned here, about just how heavy a cost one might pay for their ideological entrenchment.

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Edit note: Some have suggested that Payton’s tweet about vaccines from 2011 was satirical. While this is entirely possible, her being an anti-vaxxer appeared consistent with her statements against healthcare being available for everyone. That said, had Payton gotten the flu shot, she would have been protected against the H1N1 influenza virus that she died from.


Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.

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